Understanding debt reduction is the first step to improving your finances.
There are some fast and easy ways people can access credit, but this also leads to people getting into debt. It's common for people to have multiple debts, whether it be credit cards, mortgages or personal loans. Unfortunately, having money owing to multiple different lenders leads to debt getting out of hand due to the inability to manage the numerous repayments, fees and interest rates. If you have found yourself becoming overwhelmed with debt, then it's time to think about ways to reduce it. No matter what your personal financial situation, there are ways you can reduce your debts and get back in control of your money.
No two debts are the same and because of this, there is no one surefire way to reduce your debts. One of the main problems people run into is having too many separate debts to manage. If you take out a car loan, have multiple credit cards or a mortgage, then managing your repayments can get complicated. The first thing to do is to sit down and work out all of the different lenders you owe money to, how much money you still owe, what you are paying in interest and how much your repayments are. Then you can get a realistic amount which you're putting towards your debts each month.
When you break all of these debts down, you can identify the lenders to which you are paying the highest interest rates and fees. For example, you may have a couple of credit cards with higher interest rates than the others, or you may be paying more in unsecured personal loan fees and interest than you are for a car loan. By understanding your debts you can decide on an appropriate strategy to manage them. No matter how many separate debts you have to how many lenders, there are several debt reduction strategies which can help you take control of your repayments and better manage your debt. Take a look below at the debt reduction strategies which you may want to consider.Back to top
Consolidating your credit card debt
If you have multiple debts, then consolidating them may be a good option for you. Consolidating your debt reduces the risk of missed repayments and allows you to budget your finances more effectively because you have less interest and fees to calculate.
Consolidating your debts involves incorporating all of the money you owe into one loan. If you have a personal loan, the interest rate for that loan may be lower than the rate on your credit card. If you want to reduce the amount of interest you are paying you can consolidate your credit card debt into your personal loan. You can also consider consolidating your credit card debt into your home loan. If you have equity in your home (a portion of your home that has been paid off), then you could apply for an equity rate loan which will allow you to draw money against that equity. Compare some of the debt consolidation loans in the table below.
Who can you consolidate debt with: Personal Loans
If you have multiple credit cards with different amounts owing on each one, then you might be able to move the balance onto another card with a 0% p.a. balance transfer rate. You can also pick a card with a lower interest rate than your existing rates to save money. When choosing credit cards you should compare your options online to find one that best suits your financial situation. Take a look at some of the 0% p.a. balance transfer credit cards available in the table below.
Who can you consolidate debt with: Credit CardsBack to top
The Snowball Method
This method is an effective way to reduce debts. The Snowball Method involves paying off your smallest debt balances first, regardless of interest rates and fees. So if you have a low balance on a card that is charging you the lowest interest, you would pay this off first before thinking about a debt where you might be charged higher interest rates and a higher amount owing. Even though you may end up paying more by using this method, the sense of achievement that comes from paying off your smaller debts gives you the motivation you need to deal with the larger debts. Dealing with debt comes down to you and this method gives you the confidence to tackle your larger debts by giving you small accomplishments along the way.
The snowball method also prepares you for paying progressively bigger debts. When you tackle your first debt, you make the minimum repayments plus whatever else you can afford. Once you've paid this off, you move to the next debt and add whatever you were paying on your first debt to the minimum amount you're paying on this debt. This way you slowly scale up your repayments.Back to top
Reducing loan debt
People are borrowing money more and more in order to meet their financial goals, but this can lead to mounting debts which are difficult to manage. Luckily, there are ways you can pay off your loans and get in control. One way to help pay off your loan faster is to make regular additional repayments. If you budget to make these payments you can reduce the interest you're paying and get out of debt sooner. For example, if you have a home loan, you can schedule your repayments to be bi-monthly. Interest is calculated daily by the banks so you will start seeing improvements in your debt very quickly.
Another way to get your loan under control is to make a lump sum payment. If you have money in a savings account, receive money as a gift or from a trust, or just budget to have some extra money at the end of the year, then you can make a lump sum payment towards your loan. These payments reduce your loan amount significantly and you will see the effect immediately. This is because when you make lump sum payments the amount goes directly towards reducing the principal loan amount, which in turn reduces your interest. This interest reduction has the same motivating effect that the Snowball Method has in motivating you by making a huge step towards getting out of debt.
An offset account can also help you reduce the size of your home loan. This account works like a regular transaction account, but any funds which are held in this account 'offsets' the amount of interest you pay off your mortgage. So the more you put in your offset account, the more your principal loan amount will be 'reduced' and the lower your interest. This account also encourages you to save more money and not to spend it. The account can be used as a savings account with options to make regular deposits into it and transactions out of it to access your money.Back to top
Reducing your spending
This method of debt reduction may seem obvious, but it is often overlooked when people are faced with mounting financial problems. When you are deciding on a debt reduction strategy you should also sit down and look at the money you are still spending. Look at your outgoing expenses and identify ways to save money, even if you only adopt these strategies for a short period of time.
For example, could you make your lunch at home for the next few months instead of buying it at work in order to reduce spending? You could also have your morning coffee at home instead of buying it out, or you could leave your car at home and catch public transport to work to save on petrol and parking. Any money you save can be put into paying off your debt, which in turn saves you money off interest and helps you to reduce your debt sooner.Back to top
If you find yourself struggling with debt and unable to manage it on your own, there are financial institutions that can help. For example, if you lose your job and have a loan at one of the big four banks you could be considered for a repayment holiday which can help you save money until you get back on your feet. If you don't qualify for a full holiday you may be able to increase your loan terms or reduce your repayments.
There are also debt reduction agencies that specialise in helping Australians manage their debts. You should be wary of these companies and ensure that you are dealing with a reputable agency before signing up with them. But keep in mind a lot of people have found success with some of these agencies who were able to help and negotiate with lenders to reduce repayments and overall money owing.
Dealing with debt can be difficult and often takes a lot of hard work, but by adopting any of these debt reduction strategies you may see your debt paid off sooner than you expected.Back to top